A fun and exciting feud has erupted in the world of “critical thinking.”
The skinny: “Skepchick” blogger Rebecca Watson is at war with the world’s most famous atheist, Richard Dawkins, for remarks Dawkins made about sexual harassment.
Scott Locklin at Taki’s Magazine has the juicy details.
“One of the things I miss about academia is the spectacle of alleged savants fighting like a couple of sandbox toddlers. Thanks to the Internet, such crass entertainments are available whenever I miss working with geeks. Consider the recent Richard Dawkins Elevatordämmerung.
Our protagonist in this non-event: a self-declared “Skepchick.” The woman, Rebecca Watson, is also a feminist. She had given a sermon to a group of “skeptics” on their moral failures as sexists who notice she is a girl when she is at skepticism conferences. This sort of behavior apparently “sexualizes” her as a unique individual, makes her uncomfortable, and generally scares away women skeptics everywhere. This is a common sentiment among shy women who participate in nerdy sausage festivals such as the skepticism movement. It’s less common that said women also publish semi-nude photographs of themselves in pin-up calendars dedicated to the same nerdy sausage festival.
Skepchick took video umbrage with the fact that one of her atheistic colleagues awkwardly asked her back to his room for a cup of coffee after her homily on sexism. He made his pathetic offer while in an elevator with her after a 4AM bar closeout, which suggests that he is probably as socially inept as she is. Princess Skepchick expected more chivalry from a bar populated with convention-going atheist nerds. I can empathize with such sentiments, much as I can empathize with people who visit Muslim countries and miss bacon.”
“Some other lady member of the skepticism movement pointed out that Skepchick was being kind of a ninny, and an Internet catfight ensued. Then Professor Dawkins weighed in on the subject. It was a fairly incoherent ejaculation posted in some blog’s comments section, the sort of thing you type into the Internet machine when confronted with a bunch of bird-brained arguments over the sinfulness of propositioning girls in elevators. The good Professor Dawkins blathered something about mutilated Muslim clitorises and suggested everyone get over it and find something better to discuss. Why should anybody care?
Apparently a lot of people care. Dozens of “skeptical movement” white knights leaped to the fair maiden’s defense, denouncing Dawkins as a no-good skunk who probably kicks puppies. Feminist harridans blasted Dawkins as an evil man-pig. Dawkins tried to fight back, but his rhetorical skills were not up to the task of arguing with fellow atheists. The New Statesman figures Dawkins is kaput unless he repents and begs forgiveness.”
“The Skepchick has called for the head of Richard Dawkins. She dropped the big one, informing him that he is the most loathsome of creatures: the privileged old white man. Being something of a skeptic myself, I find it hard not to notice that young Anglosphere women are easily the most privileged people in the known universe. They’re so privileged that even pie-faced, cabbage-brained ones such Rebecca Watson may be able to ruin a world-famous author’s reputation. Dawkins helped found the shabby movement which gives her the adoration of nerdy dudes who respect her intellect but still wouldn’t mind seeing her topless. Because she has a hoo-ha and can use scary words such as “sexism,” some people accord her moral power comparable to that of Pope Urban VII. What was Dawkins’s blasphemy—that the world doesn’t revolve around some creepy attention-whoring nerd girl’s mild social discomforts? Apparently it does.”
I honestly don’t know what to make of all this. Rebecca seems like an OK gal — she once posted a link to some diatribe I had written about Pat Robertson as part of a Skepchick blog carnival many years ago. And I like Dawkins too; I’ve heard him speak at one of our local universities. He’s an entertaining curmudgeon.
But I also love the comical, sideshow element at work here. As author Jim Goad pointed out on his Facebook page recently, the whole circus is reminiscent of something JG wrote about in his book The Redneck Manifesto, namely
“The most enjoyable thing about analyzing liberalism is watching it run into conflicts of interest — what do they do about black sexism? Latin homophobia? Lesbians who beat their partners? Socialist governments who murder their citizens? Is pedophilia included as a lifestyle choice? Do you ally with the “racism” or the “domestic violence” side of the OJ Question?”
Notably too, there is an important element being overlooked in this big mess — the true victim (if there really is a “victim”) might just be the socially awkward schlub who propositioned Watson. Writes Andy Nowicki at the Alternative Right blog (emphases mine):
“Several years ago, I remember watching Chris Rock weigh in on the then-topical Clarence Thomas-Anita Hill hearings. If Justice Thomas had resembled Denzel Washington, Rock opined, Ms. Hill would never have complained about anything. Expanding this observation into a broader context, the caustic comedian declared that “sexual harassment” is often just, as Rock put it, “when ugly guys try to get some.” When women dislike the attention, as they are more likely to do when they find the man unattractive, they are more likely to claim to have been harassed or improperly “sexualized.”
Thus, it would seem that the gravest societal victims of this malignant strain of radical feminism represented by “Skepchick” are average or below-average looking men. In addition to having been denied the physical blessings given to the handsomer of the male species, they are now commonly regarded with self-righteous rage as piggish harassers and potential rapists if they ever decide to be bold with the ladies.
Think about it: Has Skepchick ever apologized to the poor guy she insulted and impugned on her blog? Has anyone even asked her to do so? She was perfectly within her rights to reject him, but how sporting is it, really, to hold him up for sanctimonious ridicule in the aftermath of spurning his feeble advances?”
My hope is that this messy sequence of events doesn’t harm Dawkins’ career. The fact that Dawkins spoke his mind and hurt Watson’s feelings is no excuse for her to embark on a quest to destroy him. And regarding Watson’s side of the story — I do agree that propositioning a woman in the confined space of an elevator is a stupid idea. I wouldn’t do it, but that’s just me.
What say you, readers?
Blogger Amy Alkon offers her two cents here.
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